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Summer Film School

Documentary Filmmaking A-Z

During the month of June, MassArt offers a unique, intensive, sequential documentary filmmaking program with award-winning filmmakers in the form of a mini-film school. Enroll in this intensive program to learn what might otherwise take a year. Or register for any single class or combination of classes that fits your experience or needs.

2018 Schedule
& Course Descriptions

May 29 – June 2: Documentary Video Boot Camp with Michael Sheridan
The full production experience in fast motion: project definition, project planning, camera, editing, and presentation. All with an introduction to context and history of independent documentary production, all in one week. Open to all levels.

June 4 – 8: The Documentary Camera with Allie Humenuk
Hand-held camera, sit down interviews, observational, location filming - the camera tells the story. Learn to do more than just capture a moment. Formulate how to frame the story through the camera, and consider what that means for how the viewer experiences it. Basic camera and video editing knowledge or Documentary Video Boot Camp suggested.

June 11 – 15: Sound for Documentary with Eric Masunaga
Sound is at least half the picture. Learn successful approaches to sound through analysis, hands-on recording, mixing and editing demos and exercises and assignments.

June 18 – 22: Editing the Documentary with Sabrina Zanella-Foresi
Editing is essentially directing in post-production. Work with experienced editors to explore editing techniques and styles as they relate to documentary production. Even for non-editors, understanding editing is a great way to be better prepared for and do a better job in production. Basic knowledge of digital editing required.

June 25 - June 28: Producing the Documentary with Kathryn Dietz
Intensive prep for anyone serious about making their own documentary. Learn how the pros prepare for production: planning, writing, budgeting, fundraising. Open to all levels.

additional workshops

June 23 & 24: Scriptwriting: Crafting the Dramatic Scene with David Mulei
Whether you imagine your concept as a play, film, or television series, the well-constructed scene can serve as a powerful driving force toward a completed work. This writing-intensive workshop is designed to cultivate the student's distinctive voice through dialogue and action. The instructor will guide participants through key principles, dramatic elements, and proper script format, always remaining focused on fulfilling the unique demands of the student's artistic vision. Each student will be encouraged to approach the class as a working scriptwriter and devise an original scene. Upon completion, the instructor will offer customized feedback designed to support expansion of the participant's preliminary work into a fully-realized script. All levels of experience are welcome.

Dates TBA: Social Justice Documentaries
This course will introduce social justice issues as they are represented and explored through documentary film and video. The class will examine documentaries that construct arguments about the power relations in society while attempting to raise awareness and motivate action for social justice. Students will consider dominant, experimental, and emergent modes of representation, including important documentary texts, movements, filmmakers, and selected documentary genres. Specific topics for the course include: mental and physical disabilities, notions of "Race," crime and punishment, immigration, war, gender and sexual identity, environmental concerns, social class and workers’ rights, personal narratives, politics, education, and countercultures. Through this course, students should gain knowledge of the current theoretical dilemmas and debates in documentary filmmaking, including questions of how to define documentaries, what constitutes the ethical treatment of subjects and subject matter, documentary's construction and positioning of audiences, as well as political and economic constraints on documentary filmmaking. Ultimately, the course will emphasize critical thinking and viewing skills related to representations of the social world through documentaries.

I came from northern California to attend. I took the camera, audio recording, editing and producing classes.The instructors were dedicated, generous in their time and knowledgeable, working professionals.
- T. Meyer


Kathryn Dietz is an award-winning independent filmmaker whose documentaries for PBS include Eleanor Roosevelt and Mary Pickford for American Experience, China in the Red and Young & Restless in China for Frontline, Time of Fear and CHINA: A Century of Revolution for national PBS, and Getting Better: 200 Years of Medicine for the New England Journal of Medicine. She was executive director of Filmmakers Collaborative for four years, and co-founder of Boston International Kids Film Festival. A workshop she created for that festival spurred an interest in autism and an invitation to become Visiting Artist at Tufts University, her alma mater. Over three years at Tufts she developed a series called "Stories from the Spectrum," about teens and adults with autism spectrum disorder. She also works with several independent filmmakers as writer and executive producer, and is currently involved in films about Saul Bellow, the Fleischer brothers, Carl Laemmle, and a family struggling with mental illnesses.

Allie Humenuk is an award-winning filmmaker and Emmy nominated cinematographer whose films have been broadcast nationally and internationally and screened at film festivals, museums and schools.

Her recent feature documentary, co-directed with Amy Geller, "The Guys Next Door" has screened in festivals around the country and her earlier feature documentary, “Shadow of the House,” about the photographer, and MassArt Emeritus Professor Abelardo Morell was heralded as “one of the best films ever made on an artist and the artistic process” by Bo Smith, former curator of the film program at the MFA Boston.

She was nominated for an Emmy for her camera work on the PBS series "Design Squad." For over 15 years Allie was the Executive Producer at Vida Health Communications where she created media about public health issues. She has taught film and video production at Harvard University and the MassArt. Currently, she freelances as a Director, Cinematographer and Editor.

Eric Masunaga is a composer, sound recordist and sound mixer, who has worked on location, on set and in post-production on feature and documentary film. For the past 10 years he has been Finishing Supervisor for Modulus Studios, a picture mastering and 5.1 surround mixing facility in Brighton, MA. His credits include the sound mixes for indie director Andrew Bujalksi's films.

David Mulei is a Boston-based playwright and screenwriter, whose stage work is being developed in New York and Los Angeles. He has written for several television series, including the critically-acclaimed drama, Veronica Mars. He is currently producing and developing independent projects for film and television. David is a graduate of Wesleyan University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Michael Sheridan is a filmmaker and artist whose work addresses issues of social development and the tipping point between order and chaos. His documentary work has been on PBS, The Learning Channel, Discovery Network and National Geographic TV.

His artworks have been exhibited at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Boston Cyberarts Festival and the GASP gallery in Boston.

He is the Director of Community Supported Film, an organization that trains filmmakers from developing countries to tell important stories from local perspectives.

His ongoing project, Brewing Tea in a Kettle of War, about Afghanistan, is being produced with CSF trained filmmakers in Afghanistan. Michael has taught at Northeastern, MassArt and at the former Boston Film/Video Foundation. He holds an MFA from MassArt.

Sabrina Zanella-Foresi is a feature-length documentary editor/producer. She works in both verite and historical documentary forms with a special emphasis on personal documentaries. She has edited for independent projects as well as public television, including American Experience and Frontline.

She has edited several projects for acclaimed independent filmmakers Ross McElwee (Redux, forthcoming; Photographic Memory, 2011) and Laurel Chiten (Just One Drop, forthcoming; Twisted, 2007; Touched, 2003), and edited Allie Humenuk's film on photographer Abe Morell, Shadow of the House, 2007. She has also served as a consulting editor on several independent documentaries, and has co-produced several films.

Sabrina has taught film/video production and film studies at Boston University, Harvard University, Emerson College, University of Massachusetts - Boston, and MassArt.

Program Information and Cost

Each class can be taken for 1 credit with the exception of Producing the Documentary.

Course cost: $830 for each 1 credit class; $625 non-credit.

Producing the Documentary: non-credit only $625.

Housing: Residential housing per workshop (5 nights) rate is $375 for a single or $300 for a double in the MassArt Treehouse.

Meals are not included. Parking extra.

Contact •  617.879.7200

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